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Open Society Foundations

This is Sofia.

In some ways, she's just like anyone her age.

She grew up in California; she's a graduate student; she has hopes and dreams and fears.



But in other ways, she couldn't be more different: she is undocumented.

Sofia grew up in the US, but she was born elsewhere. And because of that, her mere existence in the US is illegal. Take a minute to really let those words soak in. She says, "My being is illegal."

Sometimes she is scared — even terrified.

She knows that there is a huge risk to sharing her story. Because of the law, she has to fear for herself and her family — not to mention her friends.

But mostly, she is undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic.

Why? Because she knows that her status is not her fault. The injustice that lives within our laws today is not her fault.

To hear the entirety of Sofia's passionate speech, check out the video below.

FACT CHECK TIME! Here's a bit more info on the politics of what Sofia is talking about:

  • Sofia's situation may be more common than you think. In fact, there may be as many as 2 million undocumented youth in America.
  • While Sofia doesn't specifically talk about the DREAM Act, it's worth mentioning here. The DREAM Act is a proposed bill that's been hanging around Congress in some form since 2001. If passed in its most recent version, it would grant legal status to qualifying undocumented immigrants who meet a set of very specific, pretty-darn-hard-to-meet criteria.
  • In 2012, President Obama began the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, which Sofia refers to in her speech. This program grants temporary work permits to undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before 2007. Unlike the DREAM Act (which, remember, hasn't passed), DACA does not provide a path to citizenship.
  • In November 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration. These actions include cracking down on illegal immigration at the border, allowing a little more leeway on who can request to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, and requiring things like background checks for undocumented immigrants requesting to remain in the U.S. These were actually announced just after Sofia's speech, and she does mention that folks were expecting an announcement of the sort soon.
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